Create Good Rhythms
Rhythms are the foundation on which music and melody rely upon. We might notice the solo but what makes us groove is the rhythm.
The same goes for work rhythms. Your rhythm is a combination of all the things within your leadership that happens at fixed intervals. They create the foundation and predictability needed for Calm Leadership. Great rhythms helps you and your team bring predictability and a steady phasing upon which to do great work.
As a leader your rhythm is one of your most important decisions determining most of your teams results and feeling about work. If you don't have any, it's like a band where nobody plays the same song and if you have to much there is no place for the melody and amazing solos that makes your music shine.
Daily rhythms is all about helping your team getting today's job done well.
Daily rhythms should be light if used at all. They must be good for the individual and not the team or you as a manager. If your team does not love the daily rhythm then change it immediately.
Examples of good daily routines:
- Reflect on what you did today and what you plan to do tomorrow.
- Kick-off to create energy for eg. sales teams.
Examples of bad daily routines:
- Standup's where a whole team in sync updates the leader is a bad daily rhythm and rarely liked.
Weekly rhythms are all about team alignment.
This is where you make sure you and your team are on the same page and aligned with the rest of your organisation.
For Calm Leadership we recommend that your team end each week by doing a check in. You as leader can set up your own question for you team to fill you in on. Here are our favorites:
- What were your biggest wins this week? - This enables you to learn what really matters to each person on your team. This allows you to give them positive feedback and praise. It might should small but there is no way to align and understand others than reading what they value week by week.
- What were your biggest challenges this week? - This allows you to understand what really frustrates your team and where you can help. Often this might not even not be what you have talked most about during the week since they might not perceive that you can help with a challenge they are facing.
- What are your own reflections on the week? - With this question you foster reflection and thus growth. It also shows you who actually has the ability to self-reflect and thus who has the biggest future growth potential.
- What are your priorities for next week? - This allows for them to close off this week and focus on what is next. Besides alignment this way you prime their brain to think ahead and ensures that they are ready when they show up monday morning.
You can and should pick your own questions but feel free to use this as a great start.
Monday morning (ideally before your team start working) you should read and review all your teams check-ins. Then write a team update for your team and your manager where you highlight the biggest wins, challenges you face as a team and provide your own reflections of the past week and what to focus on in the coming week. This micro-alignment allows you to tweak the direction quickly and avoid that things too far off track. By including your manager in the update you ensure that you don't have opaqueness between the different layers of your organisation and that you and your team are aligned with the rest of the org. This should be done all levels of your organisation.
Note: The reason we don't recommend weekly in sync 1:1s as that a majority of employees we surveyed perceived it as forced and overkill. But we highly recommend that you as a leader block 2-3 hours every Monday for dealing with things that came up in check ins and can be best solved by sitting down together.
Monthly rhythms are all about aligning the entire organisation.
This should be lead by the top executive. A great rhythm is for this person to sit down and write their own reflections of the past month as a update for the entire company.
A great memo has the following structure:
- Company vision and mission - Keep reiterating why we are here.
- Last months key results - Bring everyone up to date on the key KPIs. This ensures that everyone is in the know and that everyone know what is most important to the organisation.
- Status of key projects - Where are we on key projects that are relevant to the entire organisation.
- Last months biggest wins - Share the joy with everyone and don't forget to use this opportunity to shamelessly praise the awesome people behind the wins.
- Last months biggest challenges - This sets focus on the problems facing you and make sure everyone is aware. This is the easiest way to ensure the important things get prioritised and done.
- Your personal reflection - What were your thoughts? Was it a good or bad month? Sharing your personal reflections is a great way to get everyone on the same page.
- What to focus on next month - What are the key things we need to get done next month. This creates great focus and alignment for your organisation.
This should be written down and read by everyone. If you only have this in a presentation you will loose out on a lot of great opportunities for alignment that writing gives.
After reading give everyone a day or two for submitting questions.
When everyone has read it then have a all hands (always at a predictable date) with a quick 10 recap of the memo and then a Q&A based on the most valuable questions submitted.
All the rhythms so far has been about aligning people around the current direction. Longer rhythms are great for setting new goals and directions.
It can be quarterly or yearly depending on your organisation and market. It can be using frameworks such as OKR or other frameworks. It does not really matter the principles are the same: You should always have a rhythm for predictably managing change.
Most change management fail because it is ad-hoc driven with little follow-up and follow-through.
If you want to create a organisation that can predictably change with the times you need to have a change rhythm.
Here is how we drive change predictably in Workjoy:
We have decided on a bi-monthly rhythm that follows the calendar year. It is long enough for us to focus and make meaningful impact while giving us 6 course corrections per year.
We have to modes; planning and executing.
We are in planning mode from the 20th until the end of the month in every even month (feb, apr etc).
Planning is when we figure out what we should do for the coming period, what changes do we want to make, what new ambitious goals do we want to set for our self.
We maintain operations while planning (support, finance, system ops etc.) but don't do meaningful production (product, marketing etc.).
At the end of the planing phase we come together and set all goals and projects up in Workjoy so we are ready to execute.
We don't plan out time fully but keep around a 20% buffer to deal with the things life throws at you. Being resilient is a big part of Calm Leadership.
From the first of every odd month we go deep in execution mode. Everybody who produces know what they need to do and go in to action.
The important thing here is that we keep a sharp eye on our projects and don't let us get sidetracked or distracted.
Things that we experience during execution-mode that we would like to change, we note down and bring up in the next planning phase. This ensures that employees know they can focus on their work without worrying about managers interrupting them with new work or projects.
This is how we stay calm.